It’s that time of year again, when the happy horde descends upon San Diego. It’s happening earlier than in the past — about two weeks earlier — which threw some of us for a loop. I’m a slacker, man — not the best planner in the world — so if it hadn’t been for my booth-mate, Anne Elizabeth, I would totally have let SDCC arrive without doing a single thing to prepare for it. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and for those of you who drop by Booth #2201 you’ll find a ton of fun things: stickers, buttons, posters, and pre-order cards for Monstress, which is coming out in November. I’ll be signing every day at Booth #2201, probably around 11 am, but I’ll post daily updates on Twitter.
Image Comics – Where Creators Own The Mainstream:
Thursday – 2:00pm – 3:00pm Room 23ABC
The mainstream is whatever you want it to be. Killer robots, ghosts, absurdist comedy, and space adventures aren’t niche, but in comics, they sometimes are treated like they are. In reality, they’re as mainstream as anything else, thanks to their wide-ranging appeal and the astonishing execution from Kody Chamberlain (Punks), Keenan Marshall Keller (The Humans), Chip Zdarsky (Kaptara), Marjorie Liu (Monstress), Alex Grecian (Rasputin), and Michael Moreci (Roche Limit). Come find your new favorite comic.
Image Booth Signing: Saturday: 12-12:45 (bring anything you like for me to sign, and as much as you like)
The Secret Origin of Good Readers Sunday – 11:00am – 12:30pm Room 23ABC
Would you like to help your students discover how to read for fun? Panelists will demonstrate how students can create their own comics in a classroom and the benefits of utilizing graphic novels in an academic setting. They include New York Times bestselling author Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars, Hatter M), writer Anina Bennett (Boilerplate, Heartbreakers), writer/editor Dave Elliot (Weirding Willows), librarian Karen Green (Columbia University), New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men, Dirk & Steele), Bill Morrison (Bongo Comics co-founder and illustrator, The Simpsons, Futurama), Peter J. Wacks (Invasion Oz, Steampunk Journey coloring book, Cyberpunk CCG), and comics retailer Mimi Cruz (Night Flight Comics).
I used to blog a lot more than I do now — I’ve been hammered with deadlines, which is excellent, but it means that Twitter is far more attractive: just a few seconds here and there, and I’ve made a “post”. But it’s nice having a space where I can go deeper.
I spent all last week in Miami teaching a Popular Fiction workshop at VONA. More than once, the students and I were asked to define Popular Fiction, and it’s simple: just think of all the genres folks love to read — science fiction and fantasy, mystery and thrillers, romance, young adult, and so on. That’s Popular Fiction. Because it’s popular. And yes, we write those books and we’re proud of it.
Here they are, hard at work on crafting the perfect first sentence. Eleven students of all ages and backgrounds, all people of color, and super talented. You’re looking at the future of young adult, mystery, romance, fantasy: more inclusion, more diversity. It was deeply heartening to be part of that, and feel all the tremendous enthusiasm and energy that was being poured into the work. And it made me reflect on my own work, and think about how I got here, and why, and where I want to go in the next few years.
Besides Monstress (more on that in another post), I’ve got four new projects that I’m finishing up this summer, all of which I can’t talk about yet but that are deeply exciting to me. I’m also working on a new novel, which feels so good. I love writing prose. I’ve been so busy writing comics, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy crafting dense thick sentences, and making worlds from words. That’s my first love. I don’t want to get so distracted I forget that.
Summer is here (even if it doesn’t feel like it right now in Boston), and that means convention season! I’m making an appearance at Special Edition this weekend in New York City, and can’t wait to see all of you. It’s taking place at Pier 94 (711 12th Avenue, New York, NY) and you’ll be able to find me at Booth J9.
There’s no limit to what I’ll sign — bring as much as you want. I’ll be around most of the weekend, but here are the times when I’ll absolutely be at my table (along with two panels I’m on):
Creating Comics: The Real Stories Sunday: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM |Theater 1
They write and draw stories for a living, but what are their own personal stories? Spend an hour with a Panel of accomplished artists and gifted writers as they discuss the stories and characters they’ve brought to life and how it has impacted their own. Panelists include Marguerite Bennett, Dylan Meconis, Katie Cook, Kate Leth, Annie Wu, Becky Cloonan and Marjorie Liu. Moderated by Jill Pantozzi, Editor in Chief of TheMarySue.com.
From Asgard to Gotham City, gender change has become more and more common in comic books, but comics have addressed transgender themes since the Golden Age. Join a Panel of writers and artists who will discuss recent additions to the ever-growing roster of transgender comic book characters, and the impact of transgender characters throughout comic history!
A full week has officially passed since we landed in Tokyo, and it’s mostly been spent working on Monstress. Still, a girl has to eat. Here are the best three meals of the last couple days, in order of consumption:
Best. Soup. Curry. Ever. That’s all you really need to know about this small upstairs restaurant in Ginza. This was our second time at Dominica — we found it on the last day of our last trip — last year — and haven’t stopped talking about it since. Being food nerds, we made sure to get there five minutes before the doors opened (we remembered the line we faced before).
For those wondering, soup curry is a richer-than-average broth with as much spice as you can handle (or not). It comes with a side order of saffron rice, which is delicious on its own, or mixed in with the soup. I had the original chicken (melt off the bone), but there’s a version with a hamburger patty, which is also hands-down delicious.
It’s a small spot, and like I said, there can be a line if you don’t arrive early. It’s worth the wait, though. Here’s the official website, and the address is: M Ginza Bldg. 2F, 3-4-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. If you’re taking the train: Kyobashi Station (Ginza line), exit 3.
We met some dear friends here on a cold rainy night, right around the corner from Harajuku. It’s another small restaurant with amazing okonomiyaki: a savory “pancake” filled with everything from veggies, batter, seafood, meat, eggs, etc. I’ve had more versions than I can count — from Hiroshima to Tokyo to Berlin — and each one is different, regionally specific, and delicious. It’s a comfort food for me, right up there with dumplings and pie, and the problem generally is that I tend to eat myself into an okonomiyakicoma.
Usagi has other specialties, too. Yaki-onigiri (the grilled rice ball pictured below, which in this case was packed with fish…amazing, amazing); grilled veggies, steak, tofu with yam (we also said, “huh?”, but it was good); and more. If you go, don’t forget dessert: a pancake wrapped around a sweet red bean paste and dusted in chocolate powder. Aiyeeee.
I can’t find their address, but here’s a website in Japanese. To be honest, this is a place that might require a native speaker (we were with local friends). I’m not saying you shouldn’t try coming in, but it’s just a heads up.
Last up, we have Akira:
We discovered Akira last year when we read a review about their chicken sashimi. I was leery at first (some might say that’s an understatement), but we finally went — and it was, of course, delectable. Japan is the only country in the world where I’ll eat raw chicken, happily. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the chicken tartar (I dove right in), but pictured below is the fried chicken skin (excellent) and the grilled goodies.
Reservations are highly recommended; the restaurant is located along the canal that runs through Nakameguro, and is only a five minute walk (if that) from the station. They do have an English menu, too. Here’s their address: 1-10-23 Naka-Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (Ph: 03-3793-0051)
I’m not saying I’ll blog every day about this trip to Tokyo, but there are some things I’d like to talk about that can’t fit into 140 characters — such as food, for example.
I like to eat. More importantly, I need to stay fed or else…bad things start to happen. Low blood sugar is not a good look on me. Fortunately, Japan is the one country in the world where it’s impossible to go two steps without there being food for sale. I’m not exaggerating, either. Food is everywhere here.
Of course, I failed to mention the most crucial piece of information: specifically, where I got that burger. I wasn’t trying to be a deliberate tease — it’s just that I still had ‘burger head’. It’s impossible to focus when all I want to do is salivate over a second slab of meat.
So here, let me fix my oversight: the burger joint is called Fellows, and it’s located in trendy, hip, Omotesando. It’s probably the most adorable spot ever to chow down on a burger, as you can see below:
I mean, really. I totally want to live there.
Cute factor aside, however, the burger really is phenomenal. The bun collapses, and it’s got a crispness to it that’s super tasty. People always forget the importance of a good bun when rating a burger — but this one is supreme. Juicy patty, too — a ton of avocado (my favorite topping on a burger) — and fresh lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Delicious, all the way through.
We found the place by accident last year, when wandering down a side street near the gallery our dear family friend owns. Took one look at that sign, and were too curious not to give it a try. We are so glad we did.
Now, that was lunch. The afternoon consisted of a gorgeous walk, followed by dinner at Warayakiya in Roppongi (they have another larger spot in Akasaka). This place was discovered last year when a friend brought us — and we just never stopped going. Warayakiya specializes in cooking with straw, which apparently burns at temperatures of up 900 degrees. Hot, hot, hot.
Here’s what it looks like:
Highly recommended. Take a seat at the bar and feel the heat of that fire on you while you taste that delicious, scrumptious, chicken.